The new Senate Bill 6278 “concerning water withdrawals for commercial bottled water production” proposes the restriction of tapping of natural water in Washington State.
“The problem with massive amounts of bottled water is it disconnects from today’s need to reduce our addiction to single-use plastic and our need to reduce overuse of our water,” Sen. Reuven Carlyle said.
If the bill is approved, it would become the first state-wide ban of this nature.
What would the law entail?
The main argument is that “any use of water for the commercial production of bottled water is deemed to be detrimental to the public welfare and the public interest”, however “... this limitation does not apply if there is a public health emergency and bottled water is needed because of a public water system's inability to provide water service to its customers”.
The growing push by environmentalists against the bottled water industry and the efforts of the United States to secure its position as an environmental leader have prompted senators to take action.
What is the current situation?
According to John G. Rodwan, Jr., “Even where tap water may be safe, many people prefer bottled water, which they deem as better tasting. The easy availability of packaged water wherever beverages are sold also meaningfully differentiates bottled water from tap”.
International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) posits that “Bottled water production accounts for less than 0.02% of the total groundwater withdrawn each year”. This undermines the Senators’ argument concerning water shortages.
Environmental life cycle assessment conducted by Quantis in 2010 shows that bottled water's environmental footprint is the lowest of any packaged beverage. This undermines another argument regarding the environmental impact of water bottle companies.
“We’re looking at the banning of a certain industry. What we’re doing is taking away the right of the locals to decide that.” says Judy Warnick, a Republican who voted against the proposal.
As of 2017, China is the leader in bottled water consumption with almost twice as many gallons consumed in 2017 as the United States.
The bill has already been introduced in the House. However, its fate is uncertain.